Amazon Web Services Plans Saudi Arabia Infrastructure Region

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Amazon Web Services plans new infrastructure region in Saudi Arabia as country pitches itself as prospective hub for AI cloud apps

Amazon Web Services is to establish an infrastructure region in Saudi Arabia in 2026 as it looks to expand its localized footprint in a country that has pitched itself as a prospective hub for artificial intelligence (AI) data centres outside the United States.

The Amazon cloud subsidiary said the move was in response to high demand for cloud services in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East.

As part of its commitment AWS plans to invest more than $5.3 billion (£4.2bn) in Saudi Arabia and said it would open two innovation centres to provide start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa with technical mentorship and training in cloud technologies including AI and machine learning.

The company said it would offer grants for graduate student research and skill-building courses for up to 4,000 individuals working in smaller businesses in Saudi Arabia.

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Local infrastructure

The new infrastructure gives users the ability to offer cloud-based services to clients in the country with lower latency and to store cloud data without sending it abroad.

“The new AWS region will enable organizations to unlock the full potential of the cloud,” said AWS vice-president of infrastructure services Prasad Kalyanaraman.

The new region is to consist of three Availability Zones at launch, adding to AWS’ 105 existing Availability Zones across 33 geographic regions globally.

Including the Saudi Arabia announcement, AWS is currently planning 18 upcoming Availability Zones and six regions in Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the AWS European Sovereign Cloud.

Last week, local New Zealand news outlet Newsroom reported that the development of AWS’ planned New Zealand infrastructure region, announced in 2021, has stalled with the company halting construction of the first of three promised Auckland data centres, which would reportedly not meet its 2024 launch date.

AI cloud investment

AWS competitors including Google and Microsoft have said they would increase their investments to support AI demand, with a focus on expanding data centre capacity.

The cloud unit of China’s Huawei, the second-biggest cloud operator in China after Alibaba, added regions in Turkey and Saudi Arabia last year and said it is planning another in Egypt in March.

At the September launch of its Riyadh data centre Huawei vowed to support 200,000 new developers in the country and work with 1,000 local partners and 2,000 start-ups through its cloud computing services over the next five years.

In February the head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) said the kingdom has the energy resources and funding capacity to make it a major hub for cloud-based AI applications.